Key Issues That Will Shape Brazil's International Friendly with Japan
Brazil face Japan in a friendly in Singapore on Tuesday as both sides continue their respective rebuilding processes following disastrous World Cup exits.
The South Americans have a fine record against the Samurai Blue they will hope to maintain, having overcome Argentina 2-0 on Saturday.
Japan, though, will be keen to put up a fight having also claimed a win on Friday night to end a poor run of recent results.
Where, then, will the game be won and lost?
What Team Will Dunga Select
The composition of Dunga's Brazil side for the clash will go a long way to influencing how the game plays out, with most people accepting that the Selecao's strongest side would be too strong for their opponents.
However, having endured a long-haul flight to Beijing, played Argentina and now travelled to Singapore, there are perhaps some Brazil stars in need of a rest, meaning rotation may occur.
Any weakening of the side may increase Japan's chances of troubling their illustrious opponents, but Dunga will still expect any line-up he puts out to be capable of achieving success.
Can Japan Avoid Shooting Themselves in the Foot
Japan causing themselves problems through a lack of defensive solidity has been a theme of the Samurai Blue's clashes with bigger opponents in recent years.
Whether it be errors on the ball, in positioning or poor attempts at tackles, Japan have been unable to present a solid defence when it comes to opponents of any stature at a world level. It is a real concern.
If they make such fundamental errors against Brazil, they have no chance—regardless of Dunga's selection. Javier Aguirre will hope his side are at least well organised when it comes to repelling attacks.
The lack of top-class defensive talent, though, is something he can do little about.
Will Japan's Attacking Threats Fire?
One thing that is clear is that Japan have the potential to hurt Brazil if their attacking players can play to the best of their abilities, with their technically gifted front four full of pace and energy.
Shinji Kagawa, Keisuke Honda, Shinji Okazaki and new boy Yoshinori Muto thrive on sharp interplay between the lines and have a chance to expose Brazil if they can find a rhythm.
Brazil's centre-backs will be offered little protection in full-back areas, as Danilo and Filipe Luis look to push forward, while both Miranda and David Luiz are prone to being exposed by fast movement.
Japan's best hope of a result is to abandon any inferiority complex and take the game to Brazil.
Brazil's Power to Prove Decisive?
Dunga's side may not be to everybody's taste, but the former defensive midfielder knows how to set up a side to be solid in defence and strong on the counter.
For Japan, that will be the challenge. Not only must they break down Brazil but also deal with the speed of their opponents' attacks—a tall order if the likes of Neymar and Oscar are involved.
Brazil's game, though, will revolve around their box-to-box midfielder, potentially Elias, and link man (Willian) providing the basis for those charges forward. Their power sets the counter-attacks in motion.
Japan's midfielders have to do their best to prevent Brazil's midfield being able to spring forward quickly, even if it means conceding a few free-kicks. It is sometimes the dirty work that sees teams win matches.
A Clash of Full-Back Titans
In Yuto Nagatomo, Gotoku Sakai, Filipe Luis and Danilo, the clash in Singapore will feature four players who are excellent in the art of wing-back play.
With neither team possessing what could be described as a natural winger, much of their width is offered from full-back, and it could well be that the battle between the full-backs will be the one that settles the clash.
Japan's full-backs would be expected to perhaps take a step back and focus on their defensive responsibilities, given the level of their opponents, but that is not always the best approach.
For neutrals, it would be great to see both sides give their full-backs the freedom to kick on as usual, with the winning duo set to play a big role in the outcome of the match. Width is often key to finding an illusive opening.